Greetings from University of Florida Levin College of Law! We are happy to return to fully in-person clinic classes while exploring the opportunities created by remote practice. Our faculty continues to educate and train our students to act as zealous advocates on behalf of their clients. We are also very excited to announce funding for our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, which we will launch in 2022. For now, I invite you to explore 10 recent highlights of the experiential learning program at UF Law. 

–Silvia Menendez, Associate Dean for Experiential Learning
Students in our Gator TeamChild Juvenile Law Clinic represent young clients placed in foster care and mentor bright and ambitious teens aging out of foster care. Clinic students also offer an array of presentations to high school students, undergraduate students, and others interested in legal issues related to children. Professor Stacey Steinberg, the clinic’s director, recently delivered an international lecture at TEDxVienna on children’s rights and privacy in a digital age. Her talk was based on her book, Growing Up Shared: How Parents Can Share Smarter on Social Media and What You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe in a No-Privacy World (Sourcebooks, 2020). 
UF Law offers two unique criminal law field placements -- one with our State Attorney and one with our Public Defender. In each placement, students participate in every aspect of the trial process, including selecting a jury, arguing motions, presenting opening statements, examining witnesses, and delivering closing arguments.

With an emphasis on transforming a broken system, students in the Prosecution Field Placement Clinic explore the unique lawyering role of prosecutors who must wield the power of the state with compassion and integrity. Students focus on restorative justice, adverse childhood experiences, and ways to recognize inequities and disparate outcomes within the criminal legal system so that they may learn how to address and challenge them. 

Students in our Public Defender Field Placement Clinic zealously represent indigent clients for the Office of the Public Defender in the Eighth Judicial Circuit. Our students are committed to “being the change” in the criminal legal system, employing client-centered advocacy skills and developing multicultural competencies to meet the needs of diverse populations. In addition, they are learning wellness practices that will allow them to be more resilient when meeting the demands of public defense work. 
Students in our Wrongful Convictions Field Placement Clinic worked with partners in the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville to review innocence petitions submitted by those convicted of felony offenses in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Students interviewed petitioners, consulted with experts, reviewed appellate transcripts, and prepared legal memoranda on each case. Classes featured guest speakers, including representatives from the Innocence Project and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King. 
Over the last year the Conservation Clinic launched a more intentional approach to interdisciplinary collaboration and focused its energies on Florida’s troubled coast.  The Clinic has partnered with the UF College of Engineering to establish the Coastal Policy Lab as a year-long project for both colleges in the newly formed Center for Coastal Solutions. Taught by UF Law Professor Tom Ankersen and UF Environmental Engineering Professor Christine Angelini, the Coastal Policy Lab includes six JD students and six engineering Ph.D. students.
In February 2021, the UF Law Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic received the ABA Military Pro Bono Project Outstanding Services Award. On behalf of the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium (NLSVCC), in collaboration with students from other law schools, UF Law students prepared two amicus briefs before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and prepared comments concerning three proposed VA regulations. To date, UF Law students have represented 18 clients in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and represented six clients in remands to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. These efforts have resulted in the award of approximately $90,000 of attorney’s fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act. Students also delivered “know your rights” presentations to veterans and represented clients seeking discharge upgrades. 
Our Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic helped survivors of domestic, sexual, dating, and stalking violence to navigate the escalated threats associated with COVID restrictions. Students represented clients in injunction court via Zoom, effectively litigating complex issues in a virtual fashion during the height of the pandemic. The clinic also worked closely with first responders, law enforcement, the State’s Attorney Office, and Florida state courts to ensure survivor safety and access to justice. Throughout the year, clinic students honed trauma-responsive interviewing and counseling skills.
Immigration Clinic students provided low-income immigrants assistance with affirmative humanitarian immigration petitions. Students helped immigrants obtain asylum, nonimmigrant visas, green cards, and citizenship through representation. Students conducted client interviews, prepared immigration petitions, attended USCIS interviews, and engaged in outreach. The clinic also worked to provide mental health and advocacy services to its clients and others.
Our dedicated clinical social worker Cynthia Yanez guides our students through challenging problems and provides additional support for clinic clients. Among other things, Cynthia helps our students understand the varying diagnoses of the clients of our veterans clinic, find social services for juvenile clients, and work with survivors of intimate partner violence. 
More than 50 UF Law students participated in our Semester in Practice program last year. As part of this program, students worked in a diverse array of organizations throughout the nation, including the NCAA, NASA, the DOJ Civil Rights Division Criminal Section in Washington, D.C., the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and several federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  
Professors leading UF Law’s clinics continued the Virgil Hawkins Speaker Series for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Speaker Series seeks to generate increased awareness of public interest law and other related practice areas. Speakers have addressed a variety of topics, including rights within LGBTQ+ communities, pro bono/legal aid practice, employing a multiculturalism mindset in interviewing and counseling, working as a federal public defender, and the barriers of homelessness. This year we welcomed the following speakers:
  • Joy Gabrielli, Ph.D. (Florida), Understanding Trauma in Children: Motivational Interviewing, Feb. 9, 2021
  • Melissa Nelson, Esq. State Attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial CircuitFeb. 23, 2021 and Sept. 24, 2021
  • M. Smith (Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Florida), Client Interviewing & Counseling with Consideration of Inclusion and Multiculturalism Concepts, Mar. 2, 2021
  • Jon DeCarmine, (Director, GRACE Marketplace), Barriers of Homelessness, Mar. 9, 2021 and Nov. 5, 2021
  • Hon. Meshon Rawls (Eighth Judicial Circuit County Court, Florida), A View from the Bench: The Value of Clinical Experience in Law School, Mar. 16, 2021 and Oct. 22, 2021
  • Evan Seamone, LP.D., LL.M., J.D., M.P.P., M.S. (U.S. Army, Ret.), The “Cost of Caring”:  Mitigating the Effects of Secondary Traumatic Stress in the Law Clinic Environment, Mar. 23, 2021
  • Gisselle Martinez, Esq. (Orlando Center for Justice), Immigration in a Shifting Environment, Apr. 6, 2021
  • Maria Ceballos-Zagales, Esq. (Former UF Law clinic student, Equal Justice Works Fellow), Fellowships: Working in Legal Aid, Equal Justice Works & Skadden, Sept. 17, 2021
  • Simone Chriss, Esq. (Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel, Inc), Rights of LBGTQ+ clients, Oct. 1, 2021
  • Christie Bhageloe, Esq. (Director of Statewide Training Initiative, Florida Legal Services, Inc.), Advice on Infusing Pro Bono Practice in Private Practice & Advice in Being a Legal Aid Attorney, Oct. 15, 2021
  • Lynn Bailey, Esq. (Staff Attorney, US District Courts), Being a Federal Public Defender at the Trial and Appellate Level, Briefing Before the U.S. Supreme Court, Oct. 29, 2021
  • Keith Green (Author, U.S. Navy, Ret.), Reflections for Veterans’ Day: Racism in the Navy, Nov. 12, 2021
  • Rachel Rikleen, Esq. (Former Deputy General Counsel, National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, recommendations implemented in Inspired to Serve Act), Serving as General Counsel in the Federal Government: Ethics, Rulemaking, and Professional Responsibility, Nov. 19, 2021
The speaker series will continue through the upcoming semester. Please contact me at if you are interested in joining us.
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University of Florida Levin College of Law,
P.O. Box 117623, Gainesville, FL 32611

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